My friend Lucinda posted a loving birthday greeting/photo montage on Facebook for her daughter, Liz, who celebrated a milestone birthday this frosty month of January. I responded to the post, expressing amazement at the years that have passed. Lucinda and I met as young journalists working for the same newspaper and quickly became friends.
Not long before giving birth to Liz, her first child, Lucinda accepted my invitation to go out for lunch. I drove, holding on to the steering wheel for dear life because it was snowing. God forbid that I would crash the car with my pregnant friend ready to give birth! “I remember how scared you were to drive me to lunch when it was snowy,” Lucinda responded to my post, adding a heart emoji.
More memories surfaced. Lucinda was a bridesmaid in my wedding and Liz, then 3, was the flower girl. I can still picture Liz, a tiny redhead, walking shyly down the aisle. Their family later suffered the death of Lucinda’s husband, the father of her two children. I remember the heartache Lucinda endured. The years passed swiftly after I accepted a new position at The Catholic Messenger. Lucinda and I see each other infrequently but remain connected on Facebook.
In these trying times of pandemic and polarization, my relationship with Lucinda reminds me that relationships are among our basic human needs. “We are born, beloved creatures of our Creator, God of love, into a world that has lived long before us. We belong to God and to one another, and we are part of creation,” Pope Francis says in his book “Let us Dream,” written during the pandemic. “And from this understanding, grasped by the heart, must flow our love for each other, a love not earned or bought because all we are and have is unearned gift.”
Last Sunday morning, I attended Mass at St. Anthony Catholic Church in downtown Davenport and covered the blessing of the St. Anthony Parish Grace Center afterwards. Something stirred inside of me after I received Communion and saw so many people, reflecting the diversity of humankind, receive the sacrament. These are my sisters and brothers in Christ, I thought to myself. They are here because they believe. They love Christ and desire to be nourished, as I do, in the Eucharist. On the surface, we appear to be strangers, but we are the one body of Christ.
In Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians (12:12-30), which we will hear this weekend, Paul reminds us “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also is Christ…. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” Our relationships are essential!
Relationships may fracture, but we can mend them by listening to each other with patience (no interrupting), respect and a willingness to accept that we may not agree with one another. I am hopeful that our diocesan synod conversations this winter and spring will work miracles in building our relationships inside and outside the Church.
Meanwhile, I will reach out to Lucinda, beyond Facebook, to resume building on our relationship.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye firstname.lastname@example.org)